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Experiences with sleep practices


Butterfly

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Dear Phorum and especially to those, who already lived as religious,

I would be very interested in sharing with you experiences regarding the sleep practices in convent. How was it for you to stand up during the night, very early in the morning? Which influences had it on your daily life? I am planing to stand up at 4:30 am and go to bed at 20:30 pm in order to have a extra hour for meditation before the normal prayer time (laudes, mass but no meditation) but with this calculation I would have 8 hours of sleep. Right now I got up at 5:00 am. I don't know, if it is realistic to skip the time a half hour. I would be curious, which experiences did you make. 

Thanks

Butterfly

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When you rise and when you sleep is determined by the horarium, and most convents and monasteries operate with the expectation that you follow the horarium unless you have special permission to do otherwise so it's much less of what you plan and all of what you do in obedience. :)

My order did not rise especially early (comparitively) in the morning, nor did we wake in the night. I was not and have never been a morning person, so getting up early in the day was always a sacrifice and I was grateful that the first part of the day was spent in silence with some personal prayer before Mass. Any extra time that was in the schedule and not filled otherwise was usually my nap. I lived for feast days when we got to sleep in a little.

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Some communities are less specific about rising and retiring times.

We pray together (weekdays) at 6:30 a.m., so one has to be up on time to get to chapel by then. (I try to do my meditation and some other prayer) before, so I like to be up by 5:15 a.m.)

We have a rule about retiring to our rooms by 10 p.m., but no set bed time.

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For the Visitandine order I’ve discerned to, the Grand Silence begins at 9 PM, though you didn’t have to sleep by any particular time. The first morning bell rings at 7 AM for personal prayer (you may choose to go to the chapel for Adoration or stay in your cell), and at 7:30 AM there’s Mass in the chapel followed by Morning Prayer in the choir. In general, most Sisters are awake by 6:30 AM, and most go to sleep by 9:30 PM. I normally sneak down to the refectory at 6 AM to have a cup of black coffee with another Sister before the Communion fast begins. 
 

The Order doesn’t have a midnight/pre-dawn morning prayer, so I’m not of any help there. For feast or holy days, like for Christ the King this past week, we did have Evening Prayer 1 for the occasion at about 8:30 PM, which is as “odd” of a schedule as we’ve had. 

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:) Bonkira makes a good point. In fact, in the congregation that I entered, some of us got into trouble (we weren't told until after the fact) for going to the chapel early - that was 'singularisation.' 

I don't think most active congregations have common prayers during the night, though some cloistered monasteries do. We had an all-night vigil each First Friday, and every Sister could choose which time she spent an hour in adoration before the Sacrament. No-one had to do this in the middle of the night - some did it as a 'bigger sacrifice.'

Our silence began after Compline (9 PM - though one did not have to go directly to bed). Lauds was at 5:45 - then meditation (most of us were half asleep) - then Mass - then another 15 minute meditation, then some simple prayers such as children say. 

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In my former community, we rose at 5:45 and were expected to be ready and in the chapel at 6:00. Officially we were supposed to go to bed at 9pm, though in practice it was sometimes later than that, if our work had gone quite late. We also had perpetual adoration, and each Sister had 1-2 hours of adoration during the day and 1-2 hours at night.

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Wryness tag on: I believe that you will find that the natural sacrifices there are in religious life (as there are in other states of life), and the prayer schedule, are quite exhausting in themselves. No need to tack on rising earlier than the others.

;) One friend of mine, Maria, was the ultimate church mouse. (She also never shut up.) Once, she and I both attended a retreat, presented by a priest I know. When he planned another retreat, Maria decided that, though we did not have to observe silence, she wanted to do so. I'm fond of Maria, as he is, and I joked to him (he's my spiritual director), "If Maria cannot get attention by her talk, she has to get it by her silence." 

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The contemplative community I know best gets up at 5.30 am and has morning prayer together at 7.30. In those two hours it is up to each sister to fit in at least an hour of private prayer, get washed and have breakfast, in whatever order they find best. Compline or Night Prayer is at 8.00 pm and then everyone is expected to head to bed and not disturb anyone else. Lights out at each sister’s discretion but most people are asleep by 10 at the latest

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What all of these answers suggest are 2 things: 1. Most active communities don't have regular rising for prayer in the middle of the night. 2. Different communities, even contemplative, have different horaria. So, in the process of discerning, this is a question to ask of particular communities; generalizations are not really in order.

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